Frost Revisions

Several years ago, one of my colleagues was sharing how she had been exposed to drafts of Robert Frost’s poetry and what a profound impact it had on her. As a lover of Frost’s poems, she was used to reading them as a finished product in all their glory. Seeing the poems with words scribbled out, numerous corrections and edits, and frequent searches for the perfect word reminded her that Frost was not simply inspired by a muse as he sat down and composed beautiful poetry. Alas, he was human. A human who needed to scratch, scrape and claw his way through his poetry to find the perfect words. The lesson my friend learned was that Robert Frost had a growth mindset. He didn’t do one shot poetry; he worked and struggled to improve, revise, and grow.

The best thing about this realization from my friend was that she didn’t keep it to herself. Like all good educators, she not only learned from her experience, she shared it with others so they could grow too. I happened to be one of the people she shared it with. It made an impact on me and sparked my thinking. I wrote it down in my list of blog ideas and there it waited…until now.

As educators, we know the importance of having a growth mindset and that excellence doesn’t happen by chance, but by hard work, endurance, and grit. However, I think sometimes we forget that truth when we think of the “giants” of poetry like Byron, Angelou, Dickinson, and even Frost. We may think of them as people who had a natural gift for writing and forget that they put blood, sweat, and tears into their works to make them so great. When we share these examples with our students, we can show them that ALL people need to work for improvement. And when you are feeling frustrated with your own writing skills, perhaps this story of “Frost Revisions” will remind you that nobody is perfect…at least the first time.



“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and thought has found words.”Robert Frost

Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”Robert Frost

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve leaned about life: it goes on.”Robert Frost


  • Monday, February 24: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05, Achievement Team Meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 25: Achievement Team Meeting (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 26: Bill Roberts in the Lounge 8:00 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 27: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, All Principal Meeting @ Churchill 3:00-4:30 PM
    • Math Theme: Problem Solving
  • Monday, March 2: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 3: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 5: 2nd Grade Module Feedback Meeting in AM, Kindergarten Parent Information Night 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 6: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting 9:00-3:00 PM



You probably know that this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named “Parasite” the “Best Picture” of 2019. It is the 92nd time they selected a Best Picture of the year. What you may not know is that I collect the best picture winners from each year. My collection of 91 celebrated movies (soon to be 92) is very diverse. The movies range from war films to love stories, from violent to family friendly, from silent to musicals. Some have stood the test of time and some haven’t aged well. In fact the only thing they all have in common is that at one point in time, the Academy felt that it was the best film made that year.

Some of the films I love and have watched many times. Some of the films I don’t care for at all and wonder how they were chosen as Best Picture. However, I enjoy watching these films, because they each tell a story. Not only the story that is on the screen, but the story of what was valued and appreciated at the time of the film. If I simply watched films from genres I enjoy and the latest releases, I would be limiting myself to a very narrow focus and would have missed a larger world of film and experiences that have given me an appreciation for views and tastes different than my own. They also show me how the medium of film has evolved and grown through the years.

As an educator, I need to appreciate views and experiences that are different from mine. As pleasant as it sounds to be surrounded by teachers, parents, and even students who think like I do and respond the way I expect them to, it’s unrealistic and even egotistical. It’s going on the assumption that my way is the correct way, when in reality, I need to set the vision, but people should be able to work, learn, and grow in their own way. Differences in opinions and approaches in a respectful environment can be a powerful foundation for a unified, but diverse team. That’s how I view the movies in my collection; unity in their selection as best picture, but diverse in their themes and styles. Let’s create that same blend of unity and diversity in our school setting!



“Fasten you seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” – All About Eve (Best Picture 1950)

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – The Godfather (Best Picture 1972)

“I’m the king of the world!” – Titanic (Best Picture 1997)

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Click here to watch the six minute, award winning short film “Hair Love”


  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: No School for Midwinter Break
  • Wednesday, February 19: IEP (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, February 20: No Staff Meeting (all principals & literacy coaches at Central Office for training all day)
  • Friday, February 21: IEP (Banter) 9:30-12:00
    • Math Theme: Geometry
  • Monday, February 24: Students of the Month Assembly (GRIT), Achievement Team Meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 25: Achievement Team Meeting (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 26: Bill Roberts in lounge 8:00 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 27: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
    • Math Theme: Problem Solving


Last week, my youngest daughter called me with an emergency. She needed me to pick her up from her mom’s house for an urgent mission. I was there in a matter of minutes and assessed the situation. It was just as she had described it….dead. Yes, her phone was dead as a doornail. We traveled to the Sprint store and fortunately the technician was able to restart her phone and in a matter of minutes it was good as new. My daughter was so happy and grateful that she actually treated me to a hot chocolate at the Starbucks next door. I was guaranteed hero status for a full fifteen minutes!

You’re probably thinking that a dead phone does not rise to the level of an emergency. However for a sixteen year old girl, it absolutely was. Her connection to her peer group, her access to information, and her pathway to entertainment were all gone without her phone. What would have been a minor inconvenience to me, was a major disaster through her eyes. I chose to approach the situation through her lens.

As educators, we are often approached with situations that are deemed “emergencies” by others. Teachers deal with student issues that may seem small in comparison with the needs of the classroom. Principals deal with teacher issues that may seem small in comparison to the needs of the school. Superintendents deal with principal issues that may seem small in comparison with the needs of the district. But the reality is that to that one student, teacher, or principal it may mean the world. Looking through the eyes of another is a skill that we NEED as educators. It can help us create trusting relationships and develop a global perspective.



“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

“The emergencies you train for almost never happen.” – Ernest Gann

“Real friends are someone who is right next to you in emergencies, not only in parties” – Hiroko Sakai


  • Monday, February 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, parent meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 11: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM, Follow Up Meeting (Ringler) 9:05 AM, Parent Meeting (Hochkins) 3:20 PM
  • Wednesday, February 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Founders Day at Schoolcraft (Doors open at 5:30 PM)
  • Thursday, February 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (facilitated by Theresa O’Brien and Jen Cory), PTA Meeting 7:00 AM
    • Math Theme: Measurement
  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: Midwinter Break
  • Wednesday, February 19: IEP (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, February 20: Coaches Meeting at Central Office (all principals & literacy coaches)
    • Math Theme: Geometry


One of my favorite pieces of art is “The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso. It was done during his Blue Period and I’ve visited it many times in the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting depicts an elderly man hunched over his guitar with this head hanging down. He is wearing ragged clothes and is barefoot as he sadly strums the guitar in a sitting position that looks like he could be begging on the street. The piece has always spoken to me and brings up feelings of loneliness and despair. The last time I was there, I decided to purchase a magnet of the painting that I placed on our refrigerator.

One morning, when I came into the kitchen, I noticed that the magnet had been turned horizontally and gave a completely different impression. After years of looking at this tired and sad man hunched over his guitar, he now appeared to be lounging comfortably as he strummed his guitar. I stared at it for a while, because I had never even considered seeing it in that manner. When I asked my daughters about it, they said it just looked more natural that way and had adjusted it accordingly. Wow! What a difference was made by a new perspective.

As educators, our job can be pretty grueling. At first glance, it can look like an impossible task. We often struggle with behavior issues in the classroom. We are challenged with parents who can be demanding and impatient. We have too many duties and not enough time to do them. But when we look closer, we can see from a different perspective. The behavior issues are often from trauma or work avoidance and are a message to us that they need the patience and guidance that may only come from a dedicated teacher that they trust. The demanding parents are telling us that we have been entrusted with their most precious possession and they need reassuring. The mountain of duties that we have and the little time to do it in is the continuous battle that we will continue to fight as long as we have the passion and energy to do it, because it’s what our students need! Depending on your perspective, education can be the most grueling or the most rewarding career one could have. The reality is, it’s both.


“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” – Denis Waitley

“Not enough people in this world carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

“It’s useful to go out of this world and see it from the perspective of another one.” – Terry Pratchett


  • Monday, February 3: IEP (Jones) 8:30 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 4: Achievement Team (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the afternoon 1:30 (2-4) & 2:30 (K/1)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC Session (Data) 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: REED (Medellin) 8:15 AM, VIP Dance in the Gym 6:00-8:00 PM
    • Math Theme of the Week: ESTIMATION (Estimation Jars & East Commons Activities)


  • Monday, February 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 11: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM, Follow Up Meeting (Ringler) 9:05 AM
  • Wednesday, February 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Founders Day Banquet at Vista Tech (Doors open at 5:30 PM)
  • Thursday, February 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
    • Math Theme of the Week: MEASUREMENT 


  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: Mid Winter Break!!
    • Math Theme of the Week: GEOMETRY

Candid Photos

Once again, the Lifetouch photographers came into the school and took candid photos of the students throughout the building to help fill in the pages of our yearbook. As much as I love the formal pictures of our students and staff and seeing everyone dressed up and looking their best, it’s more fun to see the candid photos.  These unplanned photos really capture the spirit of the building, the joy of the students, and the excitement that only happens in an elementary school!

As a principal, I often think of observations in terms of our school pictures. Formal observations are like the fall pictures, where everyone looks their best, wears their nicest outfit, and has a perfect smile.  The lessons are neatly aligned to the targets and students respond on cue to the perfectly timed questions of the teacher. They also make great social media posts to share what’s happening in classrooms. However, I prefer the walk-through observations that are like the candid photos that show what really happens throughout the day and captures the true culture of a classroom. The candid photos, just like the walk-throughs aren’t as pretty, but they are real. They show the mistakes, the funny looks, and even things we didn’t know were happening. They also capture the magic that happens in a moment that we may have otherwise missed.

Staged photos and formal observations are often prettier and always safer. I prefer the candid shots and informal walk-throughs. I want to see our students, staff, and our school through a realistic lens and celebrate who we really are, even when nobody is looking. The real beauty is in truth and accepting who we are, while always striving to be better each day. So enjoy those candid photos and the magic they capture!



Photography is the art of observation.” – Elliott Erwitt

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank


  • Monday, January 27: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Debrief at Central Office 8:30-11:30 AM, REED (Pisko) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, January 28: IEP (Ringler) 8:15 AM, 2nd Grade Roll Out at Central Office 8:30-11:30 AM
  • Wednesday, January 29: Jon & Kristen to Roosevelt in the afternoon
  • Thursday, January 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Staff Luncheon in the Lounge, Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM


  • Monday, February 3: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 4: Achievement Team (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the gym 1:30 PM (2-4) 2:30 PM (K&1)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC – Looking at Data 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: REED (Medellin) 8:15 AM, VIP DANCE in the gym 6:00-8:00 PM

The Whistle

Over winter break, we had several family members at our house who are teachers. Their service and experience spanned across Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and California. As the only administrator, I did more listening than talking, because I wanted to see how teachers saw the current state of education. Let me start by saying that each member of this group had at least twenty years of experience and were all positive and motivated teachers. Of course we spent some time discussing the changes and trends in salary and benefits for teachers across the country, but the majority of the discussion was on the climate in the world of education…and it wasn’t good.

If I could sum up in one word what I captured from the conversation about what it is like to be a teacher in today’s world, it would be “exhausting“. Teachers are tired and not the kind of tired that a good night’s sleep will remedy. They are tired of continuously shifting targets, curriculum, and assessments. They are tired from a knowledge that children need social and emotional support, but aren’t given the time or the tools to address those needs. They are tired of having things added to their plates, while nothing ever comes off. Most of all, they are tired of not being treated like the dedicated professionals they are. Here are some examples that were shared.

One teacher shared that she felt like everything she had been doing for twenty years was all wrong. Another felt that every observation or meeting with the administrator ended in a critique or a “gotcha” to demonstrate the superior knowledge of the administrator. The most shocking story shared was of a principal who brought a whistle into the staff meetings and would blow the whistle if teachers were talking or getting off track. Seriously!

Let’s be clear, I do believe that we need to keep up to date with the best instructional practices. Actionable feedback IS important for teacher growth and continuous learning. And yes, staff meetings should be kept on track to honor everyone’s time.  However, it’s the way we do things and the spirit they are given and received that creates the climate. As we shift instructional practices, give TIME and training to staff while still respecting the years of experience they bring. When giving feedback, ASK teachers what they feel went well and where they would like to grow. Most teachers are harder on themselves than a principal ever could be. Finally, be RESPECTFUL of educators. Teaching is a calling and all who have answered that calling deserve to be treated like the professionals they are.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do feel that education is a difficult enough profession without us belittling or attacking one another. Principals need to support teachers, so that teachers can support students. Everyone wants to be a on a winning team and I look at a winning team, as one where everyone supports one another, challenges one another, and respects one another. Making our profession the best it can be starts with us!

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“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

“Teaching is a walk in the park….Jurassic Park!” – Anonymous


  • Monday, January 20: No School in observance of MLK Day
  • Tuesday, January 21: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, January 22: Data Dives (Rotating Subs)
  • Thursday, January 23: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, IEP (Banter) 9:00-12:00 in the Art Room
  • Friday, January 24: Lifetouch will be doing candid shots for the yearbook


  • Monday, January 27: Students of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Debrief on Integrated Units
  • Tuesday, January 28: IEP (Ringler) 8:15 AM, 2nd Grade Roll out for Integrated Units
  • Thursday, January 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Staff Luncheon in the lounge, Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM


  • Monday, February 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the Gym (PM)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC – Looking at Data 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: VIP Dance in the gym 6:00-8:00 PM

Who Am I?

One of the most basic questions every child asks is “Who am I?” The answer is usually provided early on from parents sharing about their family, their heritage, and history. As an adopted child, I didn’t have any of that information and was left for many years with the question of “Who am I?” remaining unanswered.

A couple of years ago, I resolved to seek an answer to that question. After a lot of work, I was able to obtain my original birth certificate (They are sealed when a child is adopted). Having only a name and birthday, I sought out to find my birth mother. As the new year began, I made a phone call to a person in Phoenix, Arizona, who could potentially be my biological mother. I got an answering machine and left the awkward message that I was born on July 7, 1972 in Chicago and I think she may be my birth mother and to call me if she would like to communicate with me.  Nearly a week later, I received a return phone call. She  told me that she knew this day would come eventually and was glad that I had reached out. For the next two years, we called each other on holidays and birthdays, but the conversations were always short and sometimes awkward. As the new year approached this year, I took a chance and offered to fly out to Phoenix to meet her if she was willing. She said yes!

On Friday evening, January 3, I got on a plane and flew from Detroit to Phoenix. I arrived at midnight and prepared to meet my mother for the first time. On Saturday, I called her house and asked where she wanted to meet. She said she would pick me up around noon and we would go to a park, where we could spend the day together and talk. Around 2:30 she arrived to pick me up. After an embrace, I asked if we could get our picture together to remember the moment. She explained that she had tried to gather the courage to walk out the door for several hours. I knew how she felt, because I was nervous as well.  Both of us had been thinking the same thing all morning….What if I am a disappointment?  

As we sat on the bench under the Arizona sun, I asked if I could write in a journal as I asked her questions, because my mind was so scattered, I wouldn’t be able to remember a thing. She agreed and I asked questions ranging from her childhood and adult life, to the family history and our heritage, to the details of my adoption. I felt like a reporter getting information and it actually helped take some of the emotional stress off both of us.  She then asked about my life and my adoptive family. During the visit, I shared a picture book I had made for her of my years growing up and a CD of music I had written and performed several years ago. She then shared with me pictures of herself through the years and gave me three stones that represented meaningful moments in her life. After several hours, we went to Olive Garden, where we enjoyed a meal together and continued our conversation. After the meal, we took another picture together, this one feeling much more comfortable with one another. She dropped me off at the hotel and I told her I would call her when I landed in Detroit the next day. I did and we agreed to continue visits each year.

Part of me was glad that it was such a whirlwind trip, with a return to school the very next day. It helped me process the experience, without too much downtime. What did I discover? I discovered a lot of facts about my biological parents and my heritage. I discovered that I really miss my parents who raised me and who have since passed away. Most importantly, I discovered the answer to the question, “Who am I?“. I’m a person who is grateful for the blessings and people in my life. I’m a person who makes A LOT of mistakes, but wants to continually improve myself. I’m a person who now knows that who we are is not defined by our past, but by our hearts, our dreams, and our actions.


Waiting to meet for the first time.


Famous people who were adopted

Steve Jobs, Ray Liotta, Dave Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Faith Hill, Moses & of course Superman 

One Word 2020

In 1966, John Lennon was visiting a modern art exhibit. While making his way through the museum, he came to a piece that consisted of a ladder that led to a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling. John made his way up the ladder and grabbed the glass to see the message that was written on the ceiling. There was one word – YES. In many later interviews, he credited that positive message to a turning point that led him to meet the artist, Yoko Ono, who would become his partner and true love. He had been expecting a joke, or something negative, but that simple affirmation inspired him.

TED Talks and podcasts are filled with examples of successful people who talk about the power of YES. One of my favorites is “My year of saying yes to everything” by Shonda Rhimes. She describes the transformative power of saying yes and how it helped her overcome fears, open new possibilities, make her a better parent, and a “titan” in television writing. She shares how saying yes brought color back into her life and contrary to logic, saying yes to everything didn’t overload her, it helped bring back balance and joy through focusing on the things she said yes to, starting with playing with her daughter.

For the past five years, I have selected One Word to be my focus for the year. They have been a trait that I want to develop or an act I want to perform. They have included “Inspire, Gratitude, Kindness, Patience, and Light“. This year, I have selected the word YES! My goal is not to make everyone happy, but to explore new possibilities. Saying yes can open doors, create new opportunities, and make our world bigger. I plan to record my journey of saying yes and documenting along the way the new experiences it leads to. Will you join me in being open to new ideas and new adventures? I hope you said, YES! 



“Just say YES and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” – Tina Fey

“When you say YES, the universe helps you.” – Dan Brule

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell

YES officer, I saw the speed limit sign, I just didn’t see you.” 


  • Monday, January 6: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 7: Achievement Team (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, January 9: PLC Session 7:50-8:50 AM, Lock Down Drill 9:30 AM, Jon & Julie at CO for Secretary Interviews 12:00-4:00 PM
  • Friday, January 10: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM


  • Friday, January 17: F&P due in Data Profile for all K/1 students and those below grade level 2-4. 
  • Monday, January 20: No School for Teachers (MLK day)
  • Wednesday, January 22: Data Dives (Rotating Subs)


Taking Charge

The gods are best served by those who want their help the least“. This quote is from the classic film of Jason and the Argonauts. In the film, the hero Jason has the opportunity to meet with the gods on Mount Olympus. When they ask him if he wants a ship and a crew for his voyage, he shocks them all by declining their offer.  He shares that he will rely on the courage and skill of men.  He will announce that the ship must be the strongest ship every built and that the crew will be selected from an Olympic contest and only the bravest and strongest will be allowed to share in the great adventure. At this point, Zeus says that he has chosen well with Jason and shares the quote above. As educators, I feel that we are best served when we follow Jason’s example and take charge of our own development in the following areas.

Professional Learning Networks (PLN): There was a time when educators were limited to connecting with only those they worked with in the same building. For some, this meant being the only person at a grade level. It can be challenging to be isolated in your own classroom or building and not have the collaboration that educators so desperately need to grow. Fortunately, with the advent of social media, teachers are only as far away from other educators as their mobile device. Through blogging, Twitter, Voxer, and a host of online educational resources, teachers can connect with like-minded professionals across the district and across the globe. If you are fortunate as I have been, many of your online PLN members will develop into support networks and even friendships as you meet in person at conferences!

Professional Development: Throughout the year, teachers are offered building and district PD sessions. While they are great opportunities for growth, they are rarely individualized and may or may not be relevant to all the professionals in the room. Fortunately, teachers today have a myriad of options for professional development, literally at their fingertips. Through Twitter, TED talks, podcasts, and online resources, educators can access information on any topic they desire. In addition, they can connect with their PLN through Skype, ZOOM, or Google Hangouts to discuss topics and seek advice. Even book studies (both online and in person) can be done anytime by those who wish to know more about a subject. We truly live an amazing time for individualized learning!

Attitude: There are many things that we don’t have control over in the world of education. Fortunately, we DO have control of the most important thing: our attitude. We can choose to look at obstacles or find solutions. We can choose to dwell on our failures or celebrate our successes. We can choose to succumb to negativity or rise above with optimism. Every day we have a choice!

Education is a calling and it’s a tough calling. It’s exhausting, challenging, and ever-changing. It also can be the most important and rewarding profession in the world. If you’ve answered the calling, remember when things seem overwhelming that you have control over the most important factors and never hesitate to take charge of your relationships, your learning, and your attitude. The power lies within you! 


“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.” – Milton Friedman

“Take charge of your life! The tides do not command the ship. The sailor does.” – Ogwo David Emenike


  • Monday, December 16: REED (Trantham) 8:15 AM, Students of the Month Assembly (EMPATHY) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, December 17: REED (Ringler) 8:40 AM
  • Thursday, December 19: Staff Holiday Celebration 8:00 AM in the LMC
  • Friday, December 20: iReady Window 2 closes



Reflections on MEMSPA 19

We do not learn from our experience – we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey. In keeping with Dewey’s advice, I have always tried to share out my reflections after a conference or professional development event. My reflection process usually starts with a swirl of positive energy and excitement and then settles into concrete strategies and ideas that I can implement or share. This year, rather than focus on particular speakers or ideas, I wanted to share out some of the common themes or threads that I see demonstrated by my MEMSPA colleagues.

A desire to improve: Perhaps the dominant trait I see in those that attend the MEMSPA conference is the desire to be better. Everyone is there to improve their craft, find new ideas, and push their thinking. Even those that present are there to attend other sessions and share in the learning. Principals attending the conference aren’t trying to be “the best”, they are trying to be “the best they can be”.

A need to connect: Participants at MEMSPA conferences have a desire and need to connect with others. Some come from districts where they are the only person in their position and others come from large districts where they attend with their colleagues. They know that the best principals are those that collaborate with others who bring different experiences and viewpoints. We need people to push our thinking as well as support us. At MEMSPA, we get both!

A wish to be a part of something bigger: When an educational leader joins MEMSPA, they become part of more than an organization, they become part of a movement. One of the beautiful things about MEMSPA is that it supports principals locally, while making changes nationally. From regional gatherings across the state, to influencing policy decisions at the national level, members are invited to act locally and nationally. Together we are better, and together we make a bigger impact for our profession.

A longing for inspiration: We all know that you can’t pour from an empty vessel. One of the most important roles of a principal is to inspire those we work with. MEMSPA is a way to “fill our bucket”, so that we can continue to help motivate and encourage our building teams. I’m often amazed to learn that those that I seek out to gain inspiration from are also seeking inspiration from others. Those that provide inspiration at the conference also receive it. What a powerful example of synergy and making us better than the sum of our parts!

An example of humility and kindness: The attendees of the MEMSPA conference are movers and shakers. They are transformative leaders who impact their communities and our profession. They are also humble and kind. As I hear the accolades and the introductions of the presenters and award recipients, I’m not so much in awe of their accomplishments, but their humility and examples of servant leadership. Perhaps the best example of this, was the announcement of the 2019 Principal of the Year, Amie McCaw. As they read the description of the many ways she serves her students, staff, community and profession, it was inspiring. Even more inspiring was her humble and kind and acceptance and nearly disbelief of being recognized for the award. Having known Amie for many years, I know how modest and humble she is. She exemplifies the best traits that I see in our greatest servant leaders of MEMSPA.

As I reflect on #MEMSPA19, I ask myself three questions. “Am I better after the conference?” Yes! “Did I help make someone else better?” I hope so. “Did I come away with something that I can share with other educators?” Yes, and my attempt to do so is in this post. I’m thankful for those who inspired me at the conference, I’m thankful for my district who supports my efforts to grow, and I’m thankful to my building team who make it possible for me to attend, by their leadership at the school while I am gone. The MEMSPA conference may only happen once a year, but the inspiration and ideas it provides will continue impact our team throughout the year!



“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim is fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

“I want to say that I contributed more than I criticized.” – Brene Brown

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” – Mahatma Gandhi


  • Monday, December 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05, REED (Williams) 2:30 PM, Santa Shop begins, iReady Window 2 opens 
  • Tuesday, December 10: REED (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM, REED (Ringler) 9:10 AM, Grades due in by midnight
  • Wednesday, December 11: IEP (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, IEP (Adams) 10:35 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 12:30-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, December 12: No Staff Meeting, 3/4 Winter Concert 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, December 13: Stevenson Winter Choir Concert (all students in the gym) 9:30-10:15 (Thank you Byron!!), Santa Shop closes, Report Cards go home


  • Monday, December 16: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, December 17: REED (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, December 19: Staff Holiday Celebration 8:00 AM
  • Friday, December 20: iReady Window closes